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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E07 “Lie To Me”

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In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will slice through her bed sheets as though her toenails were samurai swords . She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it. 

The episode opens on a spinning merry-go-round, because let’s make Jenny car sick. We’re hanging out at the spooky midnight playground, y’all, where a little boy is waiting for his mom to pick him up. It’s full dark, guys. And the kid  says that his mom is always late. In Sunnydale. #8

Oh, and great job, obvious danger ignoring mom, because here comes Drusilla to munch on your kid. She’s dressed like a Victorian ghost and she starts talking about her mother singing to her:

Drusilla: “She had the sweetest voice. What will your mummy sing, when they find your body?”

Pictured: extreme stranger danger
Pictured: extreme stranger danger

Luckily, Angel arrives and scares the kid off, before confronting Drusilla and warning her to clear out of Sunnydale. She laments that Angel has changed, and implies that he’s changed because of or for Buffy, and we cut to a rooftop, where Buffy is walking around, looking for vamps. As Drusilla starts getting up all close on Angel’s junk, talking about how his heart stinks of the Slayer, we see that the rooftop overlooks ye olde haunted playground. Buffy sees Angel and Drusilla in intimate proximity, and presumably overhears him when he tells Drusilla that a vague “this” has to end.

And Buffy does not look thrilled at this news.

After the opening credits, we’re at Sunnydale high where Giles and Jenny Calendar are being indescribably cute. She wants to plan a date without telling him where they’re going or what they’re doing:

Giles: “I think it’s customary that when two people are going out of an evening, that they both have an idea of where they’re going.”

Jenny: “Oh come on, where is your sense of adventure?”

Giles: “But I-I– how will I know what to wear?”

Jenny: “Do you own anything else?”

Okay, one of you magnificent bastards sent me a screenshot of that scene with the caption, “Bet he owns a stack of Barry White albums and a six-pack of Magnums,” and I cannot find it again anywhere. If you’re out there, please… link it in the comments. I need that in my life again.

Giles says something about putting himself in Jenny’s hands and Jenny spins it into an innuendo and Giles gets the most adorable little embarrassed smile and I want them to be in love forever and ever because they deserve it, god bless America, and may Joss Whedon get a hair caught in his mouth once a week until the end of his days for what he did to them and by extension the viewer oh god oh god it’s only ten episodes away and I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR THIS!

So, anyhoo, Buffy shows up and starts talking to Giles about the continuing Spike storyline, at which point Giles realizes that Buffy is really subdued and kind of gloomy. He tries to cheer her up by suggesting she take the night off and spend time with Angel and hold up, Giles. I get that the dynamic is different here, because Angel is her undead boyfriend or whatever, but you’re a Watcher. You’re supposed to not encourage your Slayer to hang with vampires! No fucking wonder you get fired, dude.

In history class, Buffy and Willow are passing notes about the woman Buffy saw Angel talking to. The big misunderstanding that could be cleared up with a single conversation spills into the hallway, where Xander overhears them talking about Angel being friendly with the mystery woman.

Xander: “Who’s friendly?”

Buffy: “No one.”

Willow: “Angel and a girl.”

Way to fuck over Buffy by revealing sensitive personal info, when she makes it clear through her facial expression and tone that she doesn’t want to discuss this in front of Xander. And of course, Xander can’t not spin it back to himself:

Xander: “Hey, it’s me. If Angel’s doing something wrong, I want to know. ‘Cause it gives me a happy.”

Hey, Buffy! I’m just going to use your personal problem as yet another way to remind you that I’m waiting patiently in case you ever realize that you really love me and/or I wear you down.

Xander suggests that the way Buffy can get over her sadness is by going to the Bronze with him. I assume Willow’s invitation is implied. But as Buffy is trying to find a way to refuse, a new threat to Xander’s supreme male dominance emerges: Buffy’s old middle school crush, a kid named Ford who seems to be wearing a basketball pinnie, has come to school at Sunnydale.

It's so orange. Why is it so orange?
It’s so orange. Why is it so orange?

If you had any doubt, let me assure you that Xander hates Ford. At first sight. Immediately. If he had even a modicum of concern for Buffy, he might think to himself, “Wow, I know Buffy has been having a rough time adapting to Sunnydale life. I’m so glad there’s someone here from her old school, who is going through a similar experience.” Instead, he just sees Ford as one more roadblock to overcome on the Nice Guy superhighway to Buffy’s open and willing vagina.

Something that strikes me as odd in this scene, continuity wise, is that Buffy says she’d had a crush on Ford, but that he wouldn’t give her the time of day. There have already been references made to Buffy’s popularity at her old school, and later in the series it’s made clear that it was Cordelia Chase level popularity. So, why was Ford out of her league? I don’t quite get that one.

When Buffy takes Ford off to class, Xander snipes about how unfair it is that Buffy doesn’t know any “fat guys,” (read: “guys she’s not attracted in so she has to take me by default”) and Willow realizes for the first time what the song “I Touch Myself” is about.

You know what? That’s a great song, and we should all share it right now:

Remember when that song came out, and the band had to like, furiously deny that the lyrics in any way implied masturbation? Oh, 1990’s. You so cray.

Later that evening, Buffy arrives at The Bronze to find Ford telling Willow and Xander embarrassing stories about her. She objects strenuously, and Ford says:

Ford: “You can’t touch me, Summers. I know all your darkest secrets.”

Xander: “Care to make a small wager on that?”

Xander’s jealousy is so tiring. It’s like this never-ending road of despair that I’m staring down. I have hit the wall when it comes to Xander’s jealousy over Buffy, and it’s only the fourth mile of this marathon.

Buffy goes to get a drink (it’s weird how casually the kids on this show hang out in a bar and refer generically to getting a drink without specifying that it’s not alcohol) and runs into Angel. Xander takes great delight in pointing out Angel to Ford. It’s like he’s gloating over someone else’s win here. While that’s going on, Buffy asks Angel what he was doing the night before, with the most aggressive subtle questions ever. Angel claims he stayed in all night, reading, and all I can hear is Neil Kellerman in Dirty Dancing saying, “There are no books in Johnny’s room.”

Buffy obviously doesn’t buy his story, because she saw him talking to Drusilla with her own two eyes. She walks away, and when he follows her, she introduces him to Ford and then invites Ford to take a walk with her. So now Angel is all jealous of Ford, too, because the only way the writers can convey the love between Buffy and Angel is by making them constantly jealous and uncommunicative.

While on their walk, Buffy overhears vampire noises, and she tells Ford she left her purse at The Bronze and could he please run and go get it for her? Ford heads off to go do this, but then he hears fighting noises and sees a crying woman running, so he has to check this shit out. He comes into an alley and finds Buffy dusting a vamp. And her caught face is all:

Buffy0701

She also gives him what is possibly the single most unconvincing cover story Buffy ever tries to pull:

Buffy: “Um… There was a-a cat. A cat here… and, um, then there was another cat. And they fought. The cats. And… then they left.”

Ford: “Oh. I thought you were just slaying a vampire.”

This response obviously comes as a shock to Buffy, who is used to having all the people in town walking around in a state of perpetual vampire blindness, even when they’re fangs-to-neck with one. Ford reveals that he knew she was the Slayer, but he was waiting for the right time to tell her that he knew.

Later, Buffy and Willow are the phone.

I've included this photo to remind you what phones were like in the bleak, dystopian rubble of the 1990's.
I’ve included this photo to remind you what phones were like in the bleak, dystopian rubble of the 1990’s.

Buffy tells Willow that Ford found out she was the Slayer right before she got kicked out of her old school. Willow suggests it’s pretty cool to have another friend in on the secret, and Buffy semi-reluctantly agrees, because now she doesn’t have to worry about hiding her secret from one more person in her life.

Cut to Ford walking down a dark street at night. Since we know he’s aware of the existence of vampires, and there is ominous music playing on the soundtrack, we know nothing good is about to happen. He goes to a heavily fortified door with a doorman and a logo of a sun above it, and goes inside.

Damn, you just can't get away from Steampunk nowadays, can you?
Damn, you just can’t get away from Steampunk nowadays, can you?

It’s a goth club, which seems like it wouldn’t be preppy Ford’s scene, but someone there knows him. It’s this dude, in the shimmery cape and ruffled cravat:

He's a magician on the weekends.
He’s a magician on the weekends.

This guy is Marvin, who prefers to be called Diego, but whom I shall henceforth refer to as Count Liberace, because seriously? That ensemble is ripped directly from the Las Vegas Hilton. Marvin asks Ford how “it” went, and reminds him that a lot of people are counting on him. For what, they don’t say, but then Ford says:

Ford: “A couple more days, and we’ll get to do the two things every American teen should have the chance to do: die young, and stay pretty.”

Then he starts mouthing along to lines from the Jack Palance version of Dracula, so obviously, he’s planning on becoming a vampire.

After the commercial break, Angel knocks on the exterior door in Willow’s room. Um, excuse me, but who thought that was a good idea, to put your teenager in a bedroom with a ground floor exterior door?! Willow invites Angel in, and he tells her he needs help tracking down someone on the internet, because #15. Willow agrees, but then he tells her he’s looking for records on Ford.

Willow: “Uh, Angel? If I say something you really don’t want to hear, do you promise not to bite me?”

Angel admits that he’s jealous, but it’s played up like it’s some romantic thing, because he talks about how he never cared about anyone and he was alone, blah blah fuckity blah, and she’s so special and that’s why he’s jealous. But he also says he has a weird feeling about the guy, so Willow agrees to help. Within seconds, they learn that Billy isn’t even enrolled at Sunnydale. Before they can dig any further, Willow’s mom interrupts them, and Angel has to make a dash for it. Willow tells him to come back the next night at sunset, and they agree not to tell Buffy what they’re doing until they know something is actually up.

The next day at school, Willow is all weird about keeping a secret from Buffy, but Buffy chalks it up to Willow having too much caffeine, so her cover isn’t blown. Giles runs into Buffy in the hallway, but since Ford is there, he has to talk in like, Watcher code or something, which is almost as painfully awkward as Buffy’s two cats story:

Giles: “Buffy. Um… yes, uh, Ms. Calendar and I are going somewhere tonight, and she’s given me the number of her beeper thingie, uh, in case you need me? For, um… study help, uh… suddenly.”

“Beeper thingie” is probably one of my favorite things Giles has ever said.

Buffy tells Giles that Ford knows about her Slayer secret, and Giles pulls her aside to ask if she’s using her secret identity to impress guys. She tells him that Ford figured it out himself, and Giles seems strangely okay with this. Tell me again why this guy is the Watcher for the only Slayer on the planet? Shouldn’t it ring some alarm bells that this random teenager knows about the Slayer at all?

Cut to a night scene of Buffy and Ford going for a stroll around the school. Ford spots two vampires, and he’s ready to help Buffy kill them. She takes both of them on at once and ends up tumbling over a railing with one of them. Left behind on the upper level of the school lawn or whatever is going on in this multilevel fight, Ford pins the other vampire at stake point and says he won’t kill her if she tells him what he wants to know. Buffy stakes her vamp and runs back to Ford, who claims he killed the other vampire and it turned to dust, but he’s not terribly convincing.

Willow tells Xander and Angel that she has only been able to track down one address connected to Ford, and that’s the Sunset Club. The fact that Ford has absolutely no paper trail is suspicious to the three, who are heading to check out the club during this very conversation. They get in by telling the doorman that they’re friends of Ford, and inside they meet Chantarelle, who is later Anne Steele. Yes. Really. Chantarelle tells them they shouldn’t feel weird about being there, because they welcome followers of “the lonely ones.” She tells Willow, Xander, and Angel that vampires don’t really want to hurt anybody, they’ve just gotten a bad rep, and Angel has the most spectacular “are you fucking kidding me” expression on the entire time. He disputes Chantarelle’s belief in kind, gentle vampires, and she excuses herself from the conversation with some good old-fashioned tone policing about how “confrontational” Angel is getting. Then Angel rants to Willow and Xander that these people don’t know anything about vampires. They don’t even get the costumes right:

angel0701

As the gang leaves, Count Liberace overhears them saying something is weird about the Slayer’s old friend hanging out with vampire cultists.

Cut to the library, where Buffy has interrupted Giles’s date with Jenny. Giles is totally fine with this, as Jenny’s big surprise date was a monster truck rally. I’m not sure if monster trucks are as ubiquitous elsewhere in the world as in America, but imagine a dog obedience competition where all the dogs are heavily modified pick up trucks with enormous tires and sometimes there’s a giant robot dinosaur that eats cars. Jenny thought changing things up for Giles would be fun, and she’s clearly hurt that neither Buffy nor Giles thought it was a good idea.

Buffy was concerned as to why two vampires were hanging out so close to the school (and by extension, the Hellmouth), so they hit the books to research. That’s when Buffy finds an antique photograph of Drusilla conveniently tucked in the first book she chooses:

Buffy: “Who’s this?”

Giles: “Um, she’s called Drusilla. A sometime paramour of Spike’s. She was killed by an angry mob in Prague.”

Buffy: “Well, they don’t make angry mobs like they used to, ’cause this girl’s alive.”

Buffy tells Giles and Ms. Calendar that she saw Drusilla with Angel, which they find weird because Angel is supposed to be a good guy. They agree they should research her some more, and as Giles goes to his office for more books, he’s knocked down by the vampire Ford claimed to have dusted.

Giles: “A book! It took one of my books!”

Every book lover who has ever watched this episode counts this as the scariest thing that could possibly happen to them. A vampire could come… and it could take your books.

Buffy realizes that the vampire who stole Giles’s book is the same vamp that Ford claimed to have staked. Uh. Oh. The Slayer is on to you, Ford, and your days are numbered.

Well, they’re numbered anyway, but we’ll get to that.

Meanwhile, back at the factory, Drusilla is coaxing a dead bird to sing. Spike has heard about her little rendezvous with Angel, and he’s not happy about it. He wants to know what they talked about, but Dru is distracted, still trying to get the bird to sing, and Spike snaps.

Spike: “The bird’s dead, Dru. You left it in a cage, and you didn’t feed it, and now it’s all dead. Just like the last one.”

This makes Dru upset, and Spike is immediately remorseful. He tells her he doesn’t like her going out on her own, and really, can you blame him? This isn’t Christian Grey level “you’re not safe unless you’re with me” paranoia. They live in a town that has a Slayer, they’ve rolled up into other vampires’ turf and took over, and Dru isn’t exactly in fighting shape, mentally. Keeping her inside really is a necessity.

Since so many people have pointed it out, you can add this scene to your “Spike has the capacity for love, even though he doesn’t have a soul like Angel does” scorecard.

Actually… let’s make that #19: Spike has the capacity to love despite his lack of soul. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never quite gotten behind the whole “Spike is worse than Angel because he tried to rape Buffy!” banner. Yeah, Spike did try to rape Buffy and that is awful and inexcusable in any way, shape or form, and the show handled it really, really badly. But you know what the show handled worse? The fact that Angel gaslighted Drusilla, killed her family, presumably raped her (I believe it’s strongly hinted in a flashback, if I’m misremembering, correct me in the comments), and turned her into a vampire, shattering her sanity. The storyline of the series asks you repeatedly to forgive him for this, in the interest of preserving the romance, because he feels really bad about it. That’s pretty fucked up, too.

Spike promises to get Dru another bird, and then he’s shocked as hell when Ford the Human just strolls right in.

Ford: “I know who you are.”

Spike: “Yeah, I know who I am, too. So what?”

Hey, look, it’s Vampire Barbie!

vampirebarbie

Vampire Barbie delivers the book she stole from Giles, which she was obtaining for Spike. Ford basically thinks this whole thing is going to go down like a movie, where he and Spike are going to have some witty banter. Ford is an idiot, because Spike is just like, “Nope, gonna kill you,” before Dru stops him. Ford asks Spike to participate in the action movie banter he had dreamed up, and Spike is all:

spike0701

Ford tells Spike he wants to be a vampire, and Spike says:

Spike: “I’ve known you two minutes and I can’t stand you, I don’t really feature you living forever. Can I eat him now, love?”

But Ford isn’t intimidated, which tells the audience that Ford really has nothing to lose. In fact, he’s got so little to lose, he offers Spike the Slayer in return for immortality.

Back at the Summer’s house, Angel drops by to hang out and maybe catch a movie with Buffy. Ha ha, no. He’s there to WARN HER OF DANGER. But when he tells her that he, Xander and Willow have been spying on Ford behind her back, she’s not real comfortable with that. And this pushes her to bust Angel for the Drusilla meeting:

Buffy: “Who’s Drusilla? And don’t lie to me, I’m tired of it.”

Angel: “Some lies are necessary.”

Buffy: “For what?”

Angel: “Sometimes the truth is worse. You live long enough, you find that out.”

*Raises hand* Um, Mr. Angel? How does the truth being unpalatable make lies necessary? Because it sounds like you’re mixing up “necessary” and “comfortable.” Buffy seems to think so, too, because when Angel asks her if she loves him, she says:

Buffy: “I love you. I don’t know if I trust you.”

Angel confesses that he not only made Drusilla into a vampire, but he visited every possible torture he could think of upon her. Throwing a quick feminism flag on the play here: we’re meant to feel sorry for Drusilla and more disgusted with Angel’s actions because he describes her as being pure and chaste and virtuous when he targeted her for torment. But wouldn’t it have been just as horrible to mentally and physically torture someone who wasn’t chaste and perfect? #6, because this is such a pervasive cultural… thing.

After Buffy hears the truth from Angel, she’s not sure she’s happy to have heard it, but I think her original point stands. You can’t trust someone who feels compelled to protect you from the truth. Especially if their idea of “protection” is “don’t think badly of me.” #9

Angel tells Buffy about Ford’s involvement with the vampire groupies, and says that although he doesn’t know what Ford wants with the Slayer, she can’t trust him. Which probably doesn’t mean a lot coming from the guy who just said he plans on lying to you when convenient.

The next day at school, Ford asks Buffy if she can hang out again, and she agrees to meet him at nine that night, even though she knows now that something is up. She runs into Willow and Xander, and the reception she gives them is equally chilly. Buffy is officially in a place where she can’t trust anyone, because they’ve all been going behind her back on shit. Willow tries to justify it by saying Angel was really concerned for her, but it’s clear that she knows she’s done fucked up.

Back at Le Chateau Hot Topic, Chantarelle, Ford, and Count Liberace are preparing for “the change.” When CL tells Ford that his “friends” stopped by, he’s furious, but he quickly assures Chantarelle that everything is going to be all right. To which Buffy, who has made a stealthy entrance, replies that it isn’t. Also, she calls Ford a lying scumbag, and he reinforces the “everybody lies” theme of the episode. Wait, did I accidentally start watching House, M.D.?

Buffy realizes that Ford was planning on giving Buffy away in trade, and they lock her in with them to wait for the vampires to come. Then Buffy makes the face that I make every time I realize I’m trying to have a rational argument about social issues with a fervently religious person:

Buffy0702

After the commercial break, Chantarelle tries to patiently explain that it’s actually a really good thing that they’re all going to be turned into vampires. I’m not sure if they’re trying to convert Buffy here or what, but it’s not working:

Chantarelle: “This is a beautiful day. Can’t you see that?”

Buffy: “What I see is that right after the sun goes down, Spike and all of his friends are going to be pigging out at the all-you-can-eat moron bar.”

Count Liberace fears her non-belief will taint them (sound familiar?), but they can all agree on one thing: his outfit is hella broke. No, seriously. Buffy cracks on Mr. Sparkle Cape, and Ford backs her up while Chantarelle discreetly laughs at him.

At the factory, Spike is prepping his team to go in and– shocker– eat all the people in the club and kill the Slayer, while Buffy is still trying to find a way out of the bunker. Ford admits to Buffy that he’s the only one getting changed. Chantarelle, Liberace, all the other dumb suckers who’ve bought into the myth of his vampire religion are totally screwed. Buffy breaks down the real deal about being a vampire– you die, and the demon just walks right in and takes your memories and life– but Ford is cool with that, because as far as he’s concerned, he’s dead already. He has terminal brain cancer, and this is his one shot at survival. Buffy sympathizes with him, but she’s still not down with his plan. She busts him out on the fact that he’s basically been planning his life as a movie, and says she’s going to kill him herself when the vampires show up.

The music in this scene by the way? It’s ace.

Buffy begs Ford to help her stop the vampire massacre, and when he won’t she tries to warn the rest of the people that they’re not getting turned. Except, she kind of pulls a Ford and goes for a big speech, when what she really should have done was yell, “He only made a deal for himself, the rest of you are going to die!” Because before she manages to get that point across, Ford hits her and knocks her down the stairs. They hear the door opening, and Chantarelle heads up to meet their saviors. Spike grabs Chantarelle and starts feeding from her, and then the rest of the vampires do that whole moron buffet thing Buffy predicted. Buffy sees Drusilla and vaults a railing to get at her, and Drusilla just kind of stands there while Buffy holds a stake to her chest. So, this is why Drusilla isn’t allowed out on her own. Her reaction time to possible threats is like, two hours, minimum.

Buffy orders Spike to let everyone go, or else she’ll stake Dru. He does, and Buffy pushes Drusilla at him so she can make a quick getaway. She locks the vampires inside the club and runs outside to find Angel, Willow, and Xander there, already helping survivors. Things are still not cool between Buffy and her friends. She tells them that there are vampires inside, but they’ll get out soon enough. When they do, she’ll come back “for the body.”

Because she left Ford locked in there with the vamps.

Remember that in season 7, when everyone accuses her of not being able to make tough choices and shit. Traitor douche bags.

Ford thinks he’s still getting turned into a vampire, but Spike isn’t real happy with the whole “the Slayer got away” plan. Ford gets all demanding, and we cut from Spike’s “Are you fucking kidding me?” face to Buffy coming to claim Ford’s exsanguinated body.

Later at Ford’s grave (why is he buried in Sunnydale, if his family didn’t actually live there? What is happening to all these kids who come to Sunnydale and die? Do their parents just never claim them?), Buffy tells Giles that nothing in her life is ever simple anymore, and he tells her that’s part of growing up. Then Ford bursts from his grave and Buffy stakes him. Then she and Giles have one of my all-time favorite Buffy and Giles exchanges:

Buffy: “Does it get easy?”

Giles: “What do you want me to say?”

Buffy: “Lie to me.”

Giles: “Yes, it’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after. “

Buffy: “Liar.”

This is such a cool conversation, because it’s a blatant warning to the viewer that shit is about to get real this season. We all had our fun, but now it’s time for us to accept (as the Slayer must accept over and over again throughout the series) that the world is a dark and scary place, and Buffy has not adequately been prepared to accept this until now. She asks Giles to lie to her because he’s never withheld anything important from her. Willow, Xander, and Angel believed that because their intentions were good, Buffy wouldn’t be hurt by their actions, but they’ve fractured her trust in them and proven that they don’t understand the world she inhabits. These are themes that were hinted at before, then fully established and cemented in this episode. They’ll continue on for the rest of the series, making “Lie To Me” one of the most important episodes in the entire series– despite the fact that the pace is for shit. It’s like thirty minutes of everyone making bad choices and not communicating, followed by ten minutes of plot wrap up.

Here’s another thing I want to address: there is no fucking continuity about what it takes to be made into a vampire. A few times in the series, we’ll hear that to become a vampire, a vampire has to drink your blood and you have to drink the vampire’s blood. Other times, people who have just been fed on to death become vampires. Spike explicitly stated that he didn’t want to turn Ford into a vampire, and he was pissed off and locked up alone with him. Are we to believe that Spike still honored his agreement with the guy he couldn’t stand? How does the vampire turning thing actually work? Why didn’t they pick one story and stick to it?

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39 Comments

  1. laina1312
    laina1312

    *sigh* I love that conversation, too.

    It’s been a little while, but this is when Dru was recovering from the mob attack and weakened, right? And then she ends up more powerful afterwards, right? I read this thing once about how when you think about it, Dru is in charge of her and Spike’s operation even when she’s weak. Like basically everything Spike does is for Dru? And she’s got him protecting her and feeding her and basically getting her whatever she needs, but she’s kind of still in charge? I dunno, like I said, it’s been a while.

    December 5, 2013
    |Reply
    • Lindsay
      Lindsay

      I never really considered Dru to be in charge, but Spike is always smart enough to realize that Dru has visions and can sense things that others don’t, so when she specifically tells him “You shouldn’t kill that guy,” he realizes that she probably sense something and he should listen.

      December 5, 2013
      |Reply
      • Jemmy
        Jemmy

        I think Spike and Dru’s relationship doesn’t have anyone ‘in charge’ necessarily. He listens to her when she has something to say, but that doesn’t mean she runs things. It’s a partnership. At the moment, she’s weak and needs his protection, later on the situation is reversed.
        Dru has the power to hurt Spike badly by leaving him, but it isn’t a ‘one person is in charge’ type relationship to me. It’s two people who love each other listening to what the other has to say.

        December 6, 2013
        |Reply
  2. For me, the fact that Drusilla was named as a perfect and innocent girl wasn’t so much a statement on the deservingness and undeservingness of victims, but more a hint as to the perversity of Angelus – a bit of a hint as to what is to come. It also explains why Drusilla seems so strange; she always seemed to me to be a teenager with the mental capacity of a child when she was tortured and turned, meaning she literally does not have the mental capacity to deal with anything that has happened on any level. Compare her with Darla, who was clearly in possession of all her faculty’s when the Master found her.

    December 5, 2013
    |Reply
    • Lindsay
      Lindsay

      Ya, I always perceived the reason it was relevant that Dru was so “pure” was just an explanation for why Angel was so fixated on the the idea of breaking her. We see later that no-soul Angel is really into psychological torture, so I imagine he saw Dru’s purity as a tantalizing thing to break.

      December 5, 2013
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      Druscilla was going to take her vows as a nun, and Angel turned her into a vampire on that night. He took great delight in taking from people the thing they cherished when they thought they were finally going to get it.

      I’m not sure if she was raped, I never got that impression, but he took from her the chance to join a holy order and basically ‘defiled’ her in her own mind.

      December 6, 2013
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  3. Lieju
    Lieju

    I can see Spike turning him just because he knew Buffy would have to kill him.

    December 5, 2013
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      That was my thinking.

      December 6, 2013
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  4. H
    H

    The vampire continuity thing extends to your comparison between Spike and Angel. What’s weird to me is that vampires are supposed to be 100% evil, cf. Buffy’s description of a demon inhabiting your dead body. However, Spike is sort of an interesting exception. He’s evil, but not entirely, and his capacity for love seems larger and more complex than most of the other vamps.
    Angel-without-his-soul, or Angelus, fits the 100% evil rule. But with his soul, as Angel, it seems like we’re meant to think of him as a different person who even prefers to go by a different name. Angel with his soul may have the emotional maturity of a three-year-old, but he’d never rape anyone or torture them. So, though obviously he struggles with guilt over Angelus’ actions, is it really fair for us to hold them over his soul-containing head? After all, in this universe, it seems like the soul is defined as “the very thing that makes you not evil.” And it really seems like the soul displaces the demon–as long as that soul is in there, Angel is forever on the side of the good guys (and the fact that he makes an ass of himself on the regular has more to do with the fact that he’s a male character in this series than anything else).
    Who knows, though, since they can’t even get their damn story straight about the more logistical aspects of vampiricism.

    December 5, 2013
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      Vampires are supposed to be 100% evil based on what the Watchers tell people. The Watchers aren’t really an unbiased source. They’re supposed to be evil because nothing remains of the previous person, it is a demon inhabiting the body. In which case, why would Angel feel bad about what the demon did. It wasn’t him.

      That is the inherent issue with the nature of vampires in the Buffyverse. It’s like feeling personally responsible if someone else borrows your car and hits a pedestrian. It wasn’t you driving, you weren’t even there.

      I don’t think the soul is what makes you ‘not evil’ given the large number of people with souls doing very bad things in the series.

      December 6, 2013
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      • I always assume that it was a biased watcher source thing. There seems so much evidence that vampires do keep parts of the selves, even if this comes about to justify angel and spike’s roles as romantic interest.
        And while we encounter spike’s backstory later it does seem to link him to always being part of himself. His shitty poetry and being put upon by his mum and his insecurity all move into his clever rockstar arty swagger, but also show why he’s so attached to Drusilla to the point where it’s obviously love (albeit one that can be poisonous). He loves her because she gave him a kind of confidence and utter freedom, but also it brings out some of his doting and caring and dependable neediness.
        All this is too linked to the person themselves to just be a completely alien demon walking around in a human-suit. Perhaps the watchers made it simplified to logic out the hideous darkness and cruelty that lies in every person? maybe it made the bitter pill easier to swallow? If you’re training a whole string of new young girls to learn how to straight-up-muder, you’ve got to make the bad guys as black and white as possible.
        Angel buys in to the whole importance of a soul because he’s invested in distancing himself from his vampire nature. Whereas Spike gets his soul and nothing much changes, he just gets more emo.

        June 9, 2014
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        • Tabitha
          Tabitha

          I do like the idea that it’s part of the Council’s biased ideology claim that vampires are just 100% evil but I also think that it’s very possible that the vampire transformation is right (i.e. you die and the demon takes over your memories and life). However, I believe that we should consider the possibility that being a demon doesn’t always = 100% evil. No one hate me, but if we look at the spin off show ‘Angel’- the cookie cutter ‘demon/bad, people/good’ dichotomy of BtVS gets blurred a LOT. I think this is what makes Spike’s ability to love possible (especially if we remove any assumptions that ‘love’ is somehow inherently good, selfless, moral, etc.).

          In Buffyverse, the Sire-ing(?) relationship seems to be kind of intimate and the process can very easily form a sort of family unit (re: the Darla/Angelus, Dru/Spike pack). In Spike’s case, I think it’s possible that the insecurities of his past self impacts this relationship, but I think the sire-dynamic plays a bigger role in his feelings towards Dru (and why he has a hard time losing her). More to the point, this whole thing is a social construct that is Vampire specific and I’m sure it wouldn’t be in the Council’s interest to explore the nuances of siring in the context of vampire-intimate relationships (as folks were saying, it may be too humanizing for a slayer training to murder all demon-kind).

          So I think that a lack of soul really means an inability to experience guilt or self inflicted accountability for your actions. It makes sense for how, for example, Angel and Spike move and operate in Buffy-world: Angel is still the same demon but has an inner turmoil of what his demon nature wants to do and what his conscience wont let him do; and Spike’s love for Buffy pre-soul isn’t able to work because Spike cannot recognize when to restrain himself when what he wants hurts others (as seen in the hella fucked up and unnecessary rape scene).

          July 31, 2014
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  5. Marie
    Marie

    That Buffy/Giles exchange is possibly one of my favorite things the series has ever done.

    Also, although Spike is more interesting to watch because he is capable of love despite the not having a soul thing, it does kind of make the soul rules confusing. Like, in that case, what is really the difference between having a soul and not having a soul? Is it just about having a conscience? I dunno. This guy explains my frustrations with the way vampires are handled better: http://ferretbrain.com/articles/article-508

    December 5, 2013
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    • Lieju
      Lieju

      I always thought losing your soul makes you a sociopath, and you lose your conscience.

      Even with that, a person wouldn’t do evil things for no reason, and could love, but vampires also get the bloodlust (and possibly increased agression), and are forced to live a life of being hunted, and they also fight amongst each other.

      Which leads to them becoming violent killers.

      In Angel (the series) we see vampires can live a very human life if they aren’t forced to live in a violent subculture, and that if they drink animal blood instead they get less agressive.

      December 5, 2013
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  6. Nikita
    Nikita

    Love love LOVE the recaps! I feel like I will never be able to see Xander the same way again. He always got on my nerves the first time I watched the show, but I could never figure out exactly why. Out of curiosity, though, (and I’m sure you have your reasons) why did you skip the Halloween episode? I’m pretty sure it comes between Reptile Boy and Lie to Me. I’m mostly asking because it’s probably in my top 10 of Buffy episodes and I was looking forward to your recap of it.

    December 5, 2013
    |Reply
    • I didn’t skip it, I just somehow didn’t add it to the index. Hang on, I’ll fix it.

      December 5, 2013
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      • Nikita
        Nikita

        Ack, I’m so sorry! I must have missed it when you posted it the first time around. Thanks!

        December 7, 2013
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  7. Lindsay
    Lindsay

    I think the whole concept of soul v. no soul in this show is connected to the idea that when you are turned into a vampire you die, and a demon possesses your body & memories, etc. I think in that view it can make perfect sense that Spike can love someone and still have no soul/be evil.

    The way I have conceptualized it is that your soul is essentially you, so when you get turned into a vampire, the demon bumps out your soul and takes its place. But there’s no rule saying that demons can’t be individuals and have a range of emotions. I mean, the vamps and other demons in this show clearly have emotions, so why can’t love be one of them? I guess I don’t really see “love” making someone a good person. I think the episode(s) with the Judge are a good example of how that works. The judge points out that Spike and Dru have affection, and Spike essentially says, so what? We still brought you out to destroy everything “good,” so how does that make us any less evil?

    I think this also explains well why we are supposed to feel sympathy for Angel despite the really terrible things he did when he didn’t have a soul. He essentially was a “different person.” He was a demon wearing Angel’s skin. When Angel’s soul came back it essentially “bumped” the demon out, and you’re left with pre-vampire Angel. Except he still remembers all of the terrible things he did when the demon inhabited his body because the show established that the body and memories of a person are essentially a package deal, and it is only the soul or demon that can get replaced in a person’s body – so Angel remembers all of the terrible things he did as though he did those things, even though he didn’t actually do those things, the demon did.

    The only thing I can think of that throws a wrench in that theory is that it seems only fitting that once Angel had his soul returned that he should essentially have been turned back into a human, since it is the demon occupation that gives someone vampire attributes. Though I guess you could say the demon wasn’t really bumped out but just made dormant.

    December 5, 2013
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      The demon wasn’t removed, or he couldn’t vamp out. They’re in a co-sharing arrangement. It gets mentioned in an upcoming episode.

      December 6, 2013
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      • TokenOfficeGoth
        TokenOfficeGoth

        I always felt like there was more to it than a demon “replaces” you.

        Spike seems like he’s unique because he feels love and sometimes even empathy (for Dawn and Joyce specifically), but Harmony does too. Undead Harmony isn’t really that DIFFERENT from living Harmony, there’s a logical extension of her personality from life into death. She’s selfish as hell but she’s not really all that evil. The same goes for Spike, he was a sensitive poetical type when he was alive and he continues to be a love sick “fool for love” pretty much forever after his death. And that intense infatuation coupled with a total lack of self control leads him to do some REALLY fucked up shit–not just the rape, everything before that too: the stalking, the Buffy bot, the mannequin, getting Harmony to rollplay being the slayer, etc.

        Extends to Angel too. In life Angel was a drunken, boorish jerk getting into bar brawls and shit, it isn’t too surprising that his existing taste for violence and debauchery would follow him into the afterlife (even if when he regains his soul he feels ashamed of what he’s done). So I go back to the fact that maybe the soul isn’t a representation of “good,” maybe it’s only symbolic of self control?

        We know that Dru was mentally unstable because of Angel when she was alive, she wasn’t suddenly more lucid after death because there was a demon inhabiting her.

        It even works for the AU Willow and Xander vamps. Will is more sexually liberated (openly bisexual, unlike human Willow who at the time is still insecure about herself) and also super sadistic (“bored now,” her vamp catchphrase, is even what human Willow says before she gleefully kills Warren later). Xander is…well he’s just regular Xander…but he eats people. No significant characterization there.

        Wow that was long.

        December 8, 2013
        |Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      Thank you for saying this! I was about to comment that it’s quite easy to forgive Angel for everything he did to Drusilla, since I never thought of Angel as the one who did those things in the first place. I also appreciate your explanation of Spike because it’s always annoyed me that he was clearly wasn’t such a bad dude even when he was thoroughly demon-ed out.

      December 6, 2013
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    • missiamphetamine
      missiamphetamine

      I’ve heard a couple of explanations for the difference between Spike and Angel. Spoilers herein.
      My favourite theory is that their human personalities remain, somewhat, although obviously tempered/twisted by the demon and the lack of soul. Spike as William was a sweet, foppish poet, who was obviously very romantic and loved his mum, and Angel as Liam was a selfish drunken arsehole who didn’t like his family and tupped the servant girls – and although their souls were evicted and the demon moved in, the basic aspects of their personality remained.
      Hence Spike still has a perversely romantic, caring side (which twists into obsessive, selfish love thanks to the demon), whereas Angel was an arsehole as Liam anyway, so the demon had total free reign to be as sadistic as it liked.
      We also see that difference between them later in the series in flashbacks, where the newly turned Spike and Angel each deal very differently with their families. Spike is caring and loving toward his mother in a vampire kinda way, wanting to turn her so she’s healthy again and lives forever with him, and is most distressed when she tries to get all with the incesty sexing. Angelus, well, eats his family with great relish and no trace of humanity.
      Another theory is that Dru being all vision-y and mad as the proverbial hatter somehow translated to Spike getting a defective demon, or just being ‘different’ somehow. In light of the fact that other vamps seem more or less ‘human’ though, I think the personality thing is more probable. William was just a hopeless romantic, and Liam just a selfish arsehole, and those things remain, even after their souls have vacated the premises.

      December 7, 2013
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      • Benne
        Benne

        The human personality one always seemed the most real to me. Although I didn’t think Liam had the brains to be Angelus.

        December 7, 2013
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  8. “Because she left Ford locked in there with the vamps.

    Remember that in season 7, when everyone accuses her of not being able to make tough choices and shit. Traitor douche bags.”

    I misread that as “reason 7,” and then I scrolled up and discovered that #7 is “All the monsters look like wieners,” and I was wondering how badly I mis-remembered this episode.

    December 5, 2013
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  9. Jemmy
    Jemmy

    “Remember that in season 7, when everyone accuses her of not being able to make tough choices and shit. Traitor douche bags.”

    Yeah, that bit is BS. Buffy spends the first 5 seasons making hard decision after hard decision. She finally finds an end and some peace and they screw it up for her and somehow she’s doing it wrong. Screw them.

    By this point of the series, Xander’s whole jealousy thing is getting annoying. And then everyone else besides Jenny and Giles are being painful.

    The last scene is one of my favourites.

    December 6, 2013
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  10. Maria
    Maria

    Maybe I need to rewatch the episode, but I guess I just don’t understand why Willow, Xander, and even Angel spying on Ford was a betrayal of Buffy’s trust. They didn’t lie to her about it, like Angel did about Drusilla. What does their spying on somebody else have to do with Buffy’s trust in them?

    December 6, 2013
    |Reply
    • Essentially, whether or not Ford turned out to be a tool, Angel began looking into him because he was jealous. In the world of Slayers and demon fighting, Buffy has to know about threats. This is the team that decided to join her and if she can’t trust them to tell her their suspicions, especially in regards to her own safety, then who can she trust? If they can’t be bothered to tell her this small thing because they’re “protecting her”, then how can she let them have her back? When will it become about “protecting” her again? She can’t know, so she might as well assume that she can’t rely on them.

      Angel concealed it for the “I don’t want you to think bad of me” reason. Xander joined in because he’s jealous and anything to remove male rivals. Willow joined in because she was persuaded by Angel, but her reactions pretty well signal that she knew it was wrong and that she was breaking Buffy’s trust in some fundamental way.

      Seriously, everyone rails on the “If only one person had been honest or otherwise had an honest conversation this entire plot would be derailed’ trope and here it is. They ended up revealing things soon anyway, but why not just mention it with caveats so she could judge for herself and then ALSO HELP THEM! So really, how long and from what were they “protecting” her anyway?

      December 6, 2013
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      • Yes, all of this! Also, “protecting” her from potentially feeling upset that they were suspicious of Ford (basically protecting themselves from having to deal with her feelings about it) by not telling her they thought he might be trouble was directly putting her in danger in the event that he actually was. Keeping her in the dark about a potential threat, no matter what size or how friend-shaped the package, is not protection. Not of Buffy, anyway. They were covering their own asses and rationalizing it in different ways.

        December 7, 2013
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  11. Benne
    Benne

    One of my fave eps- conflict! Reality! Spike! Divynyls! RIP Chrissie Amphlett, you were a rock goddess. Also, they only had to deny the meaning of “I touch myself” in the US. You uptight weirdos 🙂

    December 7, 2013
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  12. Cecilia
    Cecilia

    It seems to me that soul=conscience in the series. Vampires do all the bad things because they don’t or can’t feel bad about it. I also have a pet theory to explain Angel with and without soul being basically two people while that’s not necessarily true for other vamps. It’s not actually a demon thing, it’s that when Angel got his soul back and was able to realise fully what he’d done, he was so traumatised by it that he developed some kind of disassociation disorder and made his old self into a separate personality.

    Also, with your view of Xander, I’m really looking forward to your recap of ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.’ 😀

    December 8, 2013
    |Reply
  13. ruraljuror
    ruraljuror

    This is something that bothers me in pretty much every vampire story now.

    Why don’t the good vampires change EVERYBODY into vampires? Then no one would ever die, and even though “humans” wouldn’t exist per se, we’d have achieved what is pretty much our goal as a global society. No more disease. No more old age. Plus, couldn’t all the good vamps just curse all the bad vamps so that everybody would have a soul? Problem solved.

    I guess the vampires in this universe still have to survive on blood, but it still makes sense for most people to become vampires and just harvest a few humans the way humans eat animals. Vampires are clearly a higher-order intelligence than humans, which is the human rationalization for eating animals.

    Eh, Buffyverse just takes it so for granted that living evil is worse than dying, when that’s absolutely not a moral given (utilitarian or otherwise, frankly). But I was kind of on Ford’s side.

    December 28, 2013
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    • ruraljuror
      ruraljuror

      *I phrased that part about harvesting humans TERRIBLY. I meant more like blood donations, which most people can do regularly. This would be like gathering eggs/milking/what have you as an animal byproduct.

      I’m sure there would be some people who clung to the idea of death as a necessity of rather than an obstruction to life. Most people do now, after all. They’d probably be happy to stay unchanged and feed the vamps.

      December 28, 2013
      |Reply
  14.  If this was the Big Damn Angel Rewatch
    ^ omg are you doing one of those, though?! Angel was an amazing show.

    This makes Dru upset, and Spike is immediately remorseful. 
    ^ That awkward moment when the relationship between two soulless demons is better than Fifty Shades of Suck.

    April 18, 2015
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  15. Anon123
    Anon123

    I *bet* Jenny’s given Giles the number of her “beeper thingie.” *waggles eyebrows*

    April 25, 2015
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  16. Willow is so cute in the scene where Angel is in her room. Now I will feel even worse when he kills her fish later in the season. Also, I LOL’d so hard when Xander found out and she said “Ours is a forbidden love.”

    January 11, 2016
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